Throughout the middle ages, it was easy to have a rather “isolationist” approach to people of other faiths. They either lived in other countries than most Christians, or in the case of Protestants, didn’t exist yet. When everyone around you is of the same faith, there’s not much you need to do.

But what happens when you live in 21st century America? What do you do when the majority of people around you are not of your same faith? While some in the Church would still prefer to treat them as if they don’t exist and hide in our own bunkers, this is hardly practical, nor is it in our best interest. Relating to people of other faiths not only offers the opportunity for evangelization, it allows us to strengthen our own faith.

In this video, I want to talk about what makes good ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. Rather than focusing on what we have in common, resting in the lowest common denominator of faith, I suggest jumping right into the deep end: focus on the differences. As far as I’m concerned, it’s only when we show who we really are and what we really believe, humbly and respectfully, that coming together in these ways is worth it.

If you’ve paid any attention to the Catholic Church over the past 50 years, you know that we are a diverse group of people that likes to swing the pendulum of society back and forth. Forget about the “culture wars” of politics, they’re right here in our Church.

Just like the rest of the world, I recognize two problems in our Church: 1) we are a reactionary people, preferring hot takes and quick decisions that favor shallow answers and false dichotomies, and 2) we are unable to conceive of a Church and world in which there might be more than one correct answer. Both of these things are on display when our people argue such things as liturgical norms, social justice, clerical attire, relationships with those outside the Church, and political involvement.

For a Church as rich in diverse traditions as us, this is troublesome.

In this video, my central thesis is this: the faith remains the same, but the way it is expressed and lived necessarily changes with generations. As we grow older, as we learn more, as the world changes around us, our approach to Christian living will inevitably grow with it.

When you hear someone mention the Book of Revelation, what is your first thought? Mine… is to run away as quickly as possible. The reality is that the vast majority of people who quote passages from this book don’t entirely know what they’re talking about and are use its words to promote conspiracy theories, doomsday predictions, and condemnations against the Catholic Church.

Hard pass.

But that doesn’t mean that the book itself is wrong or problematic. In fact, it’s a great book. Surprisingly hopeful. Kind of the exact thing we need in our day. In this episode of Catholicism in Focus, I offer a few keys to approaching the book in the correct way, as well as a brief overview of its contents.

Click here to listen

Have you ever watched a movie from your childhood or revisited a television series that you once loved and found that you were now… a bit underwhelmed? What seemed so great in years past now seems out of touch, maybe even offensive. “How could we watch that? It’s so awful and demeaning!”

Whether its wildly offensive tropes like the use of “black face” or casually offensive side comments about people with mental illness, the values of past productions don’t always match our current ones. In fact, they never do. As time changes, so do our values (to some extent), and so does our tolerance for offensive material.

This is by no means a new problem, but it an important one today. What do we do with our embarrassing past? Some suggest that we remove it, banning or blocking material that is damaging to society. Others suggest that these works need disclaimers and further context. Others simply choose to do nothing, leaving up to the maturity of the audience to decide.

Such is the topic of this week’s episode of Everyday Liminality, the first one of our new season. If you would like to catch up on older episodes, they can be found here. Join us every Tuesday for discussions about art and entertainment in our world today.

Things these days… yeah. They’re not great. As a new priest, I find myself frustrated with all that I can’t do these days, but I can’t say that the outcome of my life has been dramatically changed. I cannot say the same for those in high school today.

At a time when people are trying to find themselves and their place in the world, it seems like the world is falling apart. I feel incredibly sorry for those who have missed out on such big moments in their lives, who find themselves at a loss and without direction. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be 17 today.

And yet, there’s another part of me that is not particularly sympathetic at all. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I’m sort of allergic to throwing oneself a “pity party,” of moping around and giving up.

Things are tough, yes, but feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to make things better.

In this week’s video, I want to highlight a saint for our age. Her name is Claudine Thévenet, and she is someone that I think teenagers can relate to. Although her college plans were thwarted by a pandemic, she did go to high school during the French Revolution and witness two of her brothers being executed.

So… it’s sort of a push, I guess.

She not only survived a tragic time, it made her into a laudable saint. Her resilience, commitment to service, and love of Christ are qualities that we can learn from today.

The following is a homily for the seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. The readings can be found here.

Our readings today play heavily on the idea of desire. In a dream, God tells Solomon to ask for anything that he wants, to make known the thing that he wants most in the whole world; our Gospel tells of multiple people finding something of great worth, fulfilling a deep desire. Having heard these passages today, we might find ourselves daydreaming, digging deep into the recesses of hearts wondering, “What would I ask for? What do I want above all else?” And that’s great. It’s a fascinating question for sure, one that would serve us all well to ask in prayer, that might reveal a bit about who we are and where we’re going.

Yes, we could spend our morning fantasizing about what we want, but I’m not sure that that would the most fruitful use of our time. You see, so often, we get stuck fantasizing about a perfect world, stuck dreaming about what we really want, that we fail to do anything about it. We think and we wish and we hope for a better life, but it never goes anywhere beyond thoughts and wishes and hopes. Sometimes, sadly, what we truly want is right before us, right within our grasp, being offered to us by God… but we are unwilling to make any sacrifices to get it.

In our Gospel today, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to people finding a treasure of great worth, things that they desire above all else. They are not just happy to find them, not just hopeful that these things will one day be theirs: they go out of their way to get them. Without hesitation, the passage says that they sell all that they have to get it. “Take my money, I don’t care. I must have that.” They know how much they want that thing, how insufficient their life will be without it, and so they give up everything to get it. “What good is having all my stuff if I don’t have that?” Sometimes, to get what we really want, to get the greatest things, we have to sacrifice even some of the good things.

It reminds me of a time when I worked at a parish in Virginia about an hour outside of DC. One of the employees, of all things, was a former rockstar. Literally. For years he had toured the country playing music; he had multiple record deals, songs that appeared on major television shows; he even had music videos of his band on YouTube, professionally produced stuff. He never reached universal stardom, you’ve probably never heard of him or his band, but the man had lived the dream. He was a legit rockstar, making a living doing what so many people can only fantasize about.

Which, if you’re me, naturally raises the question: what the heck are you doing here? This was a talented guy who was still pretty young, still loved to make music—working a part-time job at a small parish 3000 miles from home. What are you doing here?

Turns out, rockstars have a certain appeal to women—who knew?—and he met the love of his life. This woman was even more talented than him in her field, and she got offered a once-in-a-lifetime job, something, believe it or not, that is even cooler than being a rockstar… that required them to move from LA to DC… that required him to essentially hang up his career.

And so that’s what he did. He moved to a place where he didn’t know anyone, where there is no music scene, where continuing to live as a rockstar simply wasn’t possible. He did this not because he wanted to give up music—he loved it. He did this not because his wife forced him against his will—they came to the decision together. No, he did willingly, even with some joy, because his wife was the most important thing in his life, not his music. Her happiness, not his career, was what he loved most. As good as his life was before, as much as he loved playing in a band in LA, it wasn’t as great as his wife and kids.

He had found the pearl of great price, and he was willing to sell all he had to get it. What good is holding onto all this good stuff if we let the great get away.

When you put it that way, what Jesus is talking about today seems immensely simple. If you were to have on one side everything we own, everything about us, everything we could ever do, and on the other side you were to have the Kingdom of Heaven—an existence of total bliss, eternity loving and serving God—the decision would be really easy, right? We would all pick door number two. Without question! You can have all my stuff. You can have everything to my name. Take my life! I don’t care. Give me the Kingdom! When you put them side to side, when you see the great treasure next to everything that is ours, there is no real comparison. 

And yet, when I look at my own life—maybe it’s true for you as well—I find myself passively picking door number one. I profess with my lips that all I want is God, that all I want is to live in heaven forever… all the while clinging to stuff that doesn’t really matter. Every single day I am offered the choice between the true treasure of a life with Christ and what I already have, and almost every single day I find myself unwilling to make a sacrifice, unwilling to sell all that I have to get it.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be possessions or money. Those things, eh, who cares to me. I’m a Franciscan. You can’t tempt me with stuff. But do you know what you can tempt me with? Success. Reputation. What people think about me. There’s something about being good at stuff, winning, having things turn out just the way that I planned that I struggle to sell, that I find myself clinging to from time to time. The treasure is right in front of me and Jesus is saying, “Come, follow me, and I’ll give you the greatest joy you’ll ever know. All you have to do is give up your reputation, your need to be liked, and rest in the success of the cross. Sell all you have and this will be yours.” How simple, right? Who needs control when Jesus is leading the way. And yet, I cling to it.

Maybe you’re like that as well. Or maybe… maybe the thing you cling to and refuse to sell isn’t money, isn’t success, but is actually your need to be in control, to make your own decisions. Maybe, it’s your desire for safety and comfort. Maybe it’s your constant need to be right and inability to admit fault, to say you’re sorry. Maybe it’s the grudges you hold, the anger you carry with you for past hurts. Maybe it’s your fear of the unknown. 

While many preachers will look at these readings today and ask you to think about what you truly desire, I think there’s a far more important question to tackle here: what is it that gets in the way of what you desire? What is it that you cling to, that you refuse to sell, that keeps you from your most prized treasure?

Our Lord may not come to us in a dream and tell us to ask for anything we want, but he is offering us the greatest gift we could ever imagine: eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. This gift is free, but it does have a cost. It does take some sacrifice. Sell all you have and receive the gift God is offering us.

The following is a homily for the sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. The readings can be found here.

As someone who grew up in the suburbs, I have to admit that it is very rare that Jesus’ parables about farming or herding sheep ever touch on anything I have ever experienced, but today is an exception. When I was in my first year with the friars, our director took the whole group of students for a day of service on a farm. Not exactly my idea of a good time, but hey, whatever floats your boat. It was an organic farm, meaning it didn’t use chemicals of any kind, and so every field had to be hand-picked for weeds. Which is what we did… for about six hours. Again… not my idea of a good time.

Besides the fact that we were on our hands and knees all day, a tiring task in itself, what made the job particularly difficult was that the leaves of the weeds looked almost identical to the leaves of the carrots we were supposed to be protecting. I cannot stress this enough… we were not good at this. For every five weeds we pulled up, we accidentally uprooted a carrot, often irreparably damaging the plant . As hard as we worked, I’m pretty sure we did more damage to the field than the weeds themselves. Especially when you consider the fact that one of the friars just gave up and started pulling out the carrots and eating them… we were probably better off just not doing anything. Which… is probably why we weren’t invited back.

It’s because of that experience that I get what Jesus is talking about today. I understand how easy it is to mistake the good from the bad, and to hurt the very thing you are trying to save. I understand the frustration and horror of accidentally doing harm to the good plants.

Of course, the purpose of Jesus’ parable is not to give farming advice; his care is not for the actual wheat. He’s talking about people. He’s using an experience that the people knew well, the difficulty and frustration and even shame of uprooting what is actually good, the loss of of something important, to warn his followers about the dangers of judging people too quickly. “You think it’s frustrating to accidentally ruin a good crop? Yeah, well, it’s far worse when you incorrectly judge a good person for bad and ruin their life.”

Even if you’ve never had an experience like this weeding plants, I’m sure each and every one of us knows what it’s like to misjudge someone, to think we know who someone is only to be proved wrong. 

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch our mistakes, to eventually see the person we judged in a different light and find that they are actually quite a good person. Lucky for my sisters and I, this is what happened with my parents—the first time my mom met my dad, she thought he was a buffoon. Really. Everyone thought he was so funny and she couldn’t stand him. And knowing my dad, he probably deserved this judgment, but imagine if she would have stuck to her first impression, judged him quickly and moved on. I wouldn’t be here.

When I entered the friars, I thought one of my classmates was incredibly immature. I couldn’t stand to be around him, and I wondered what he was even doing in the friars. It made me angry, actually, that the friars would accept someone like this. I looked down on him and wanted nothing to do with him. That was, until we moved into the same house and I got to know him a bit more. I saw the person he was under that goofy exterior, and realized that I could not have been more wrong. This was a really good man. A thoughtful man. Oddly enough, a mature man that I respected, and I enjoyed living with him immensely. How easy it would have been to dismiss him, how sad if that’s how our relationship ended.

Unfortunately, this is the case too often in our lives. We make judgments of others, we dismiss them, we say that they are dead to us because of who they are or what they did, and a relationship is broken. Unfortunately, as we well know, permanent harm is done to our families, to our communities, to our world, because of a misunderstanding, because someone jumped to a conclusion that wasn’t correct.

This week in the United States, we have seen the gravest example of this on display as three federal inmates were executed in four days, the first in 17 years. Three men were put death by our government, uprooted from the field before the harvest because they were believed to be weeds. And maybe they were. I don’t know.

What I do know is that we have shown time and again that we can be wrong, that in our pursuit to get the weeds we actually uproot the wheat, we actually kill innocent people. 

In 1983 a convenience store was robbed and the clerk was stabbed to death. Police arrested a man matching the description of the killer walking a few blocks away carrying $149 in cash. A witness, viewing the man through a windshield from the other side of the street said it was him, and he was executed a few years later. No knife was found, the man had no criminal record, and he gave testimony that it was another guy who looked very similar to him, a man who later was arrested for stabbing someone with a knife matching the murder weapon. In 2012, Columbia University completed a six year study of the case, determining that he was innocent.

In 1981, a 17-year old was accused of raping and killing a nun who lived across the street from him—a heinous act for sure. He was executed for this crime, but DNA evidence later showed that he was innocent, and another man confessed to the crime. A 17 year old boy, falsely accused and killed.

These are not uncommon stories. Since 1973, this country has exonerated 170 people from death row. 170 people who were tried in a court of law, found guilty, and sentenced to death, only to find out later that they were innocent. That’s more than 10% of the executions. And those are only the ones that we know about. How many more are wrongly accused? How many innocent people have we mistakenly put to death, weeding out the wheat by mistake?

This is a question that should trouble us as Catholics. Admittedly, for centuries, the Catholic Church did allow the death penalty. It was never a good thing, never to be done our of vengeance, always a lesser of evils that we tolerated. We believed that it was necessary for the defense of society, could quicken the rehabilitation of the guilty, served as a deterrence to crime, and offered retributive justice to those who were harmed. For centuries, popes and saints recognized it as a necessary evil that could produce some good. We believed that we could be a good judge of human beings, that we could remove the weed without touching the what.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. We are not very good at playing judge; we are not as just as God in our judgments. As our understanding of capital punishment began to grow over the years, as we reflected more on this Gospel passage, we began to see that the benefits we once held to were not as great as we once thought, and the evil it inflicted was just too intolerable. In 1992, St. John Paul II promulgated an updated teaching. In the revision of the catechism, he stated that there was only one legitimate justification for capital punishment: the defense of society. As pope, he continued to teach that, when the common good was in question, if there was a risk that the killer could get loose and kill again, the state had a responsibility to protect its people. But as he wrote later, “Such cases are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

Very rare, if not practically nonexistent.

Which brings us to pope Francis, who, just two years ago, adjusted the teaching once more. While many expressed their anger towards him, believing that he changed years of Church teaching, all he did was close the loophole: there is no longer any exception for this. The death penalty is a moral evil that should be avoided in all cases.

Effectively, for the vast majority of the world, his words have added nothing to what the Church had already taught as a result of John Paul II. For places like the United States, well-developed countries with effective penal systems, the possibility of defending capital punishment as a faithful Catholic ended in 1992, not 2018. 

But really, the possibility of actually supporting or insisting on the death penalty, ended with Jesus. It may have taken a while to get there, but we know now that we have no right to take a life because it it not our life to take; because Jesus told us to wait until the harvest; because we’re not very good at it. As Christians, there has never been a time in our history in which the death penalty was a desirable outcome, never been a time when seeking revenge, blood lust, or happiness at another’s death was acceptable. Regardless of what any recent popes have taught, we are still a people of peace and mercy, a people who recognize the wonderful gift of life, a people who do everything in our power to protect it. 

As much justification as we might find for taking another’s life in the Old Testament, let’s never forget that we have been ratified to a new covenant in the blood of Jesus Christ, a man who tells us not to judge, a man who tells us to show mercy and forgiveness, a man who knows all too well what it means to be killed for a crime he didn’t commit. May we always be on the side of Jesus, and not his executioners.

The following is a homily for the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A. The readings can be found here.

I have a friend who is an absolute model citizen. He is among the most principled people I know: he works hard, is dedicated to his family, gives to charity, reads the Bible and prays every day, and is just a genuinely nice guy. I remember walking with him once in the city one night when a woman, carrying two big bags, tripped and fell in the street. Without hesitation, he jumped right in front of a moving car to stop her from getting hit, helped her pick up her belongings, and made sure she got to the sidewalk safely. If I were in trouble, I don’t think it would matter what time it was or what I was doing, he would get in his car and drive for hours to help me. Truly, my friend is a heroic man in the most ordinary of situations.

And yet, this friend is not without his flaws. His principles have a way, sometimes, of getting in the way of compassion—he can be quick to judgment, holding people to unfair standards. He struggles to see why anyone would have a different opinion than himself, and has been known from time to time to be somewhat offensive in the name of righteousness. He jumped right in front of a moving car to protect that woman, yes, but then spent the next two minutes making fun of her for being drunk and condemning the woman for her bad decisions. I may call him in a crisis, but I’ve also muted him on Facebook because I’ve had enough of his condescension. Truly, my friend is kind of a jerk sometimes.

And so I ask you. Having heard what you have about my friend, would you say that he is a good person or a bad person? Put another way, where do you think he would fit into Jesus’ parable today?

We hear this passage every year, it’s one of the most familiar parables to us, and so I want to put it to action. Where does my friend fit? Is he the path among the birds, hearing the word but falling to the devil’s wishes? Is he rocky ground, loving God for a moment but then quickly getting bored with Christian life? Is he like the thorns, tricked by riches and anxiety of the world? Maybe he’s the perfect rich soil, completely accepting God in his life in every way.

If you ask me… it’s not so clear. He’s kind of a mixed bag. Like, you know, all of us.

Unfortunately, we have this tendency sometimes to use grand labels, to put others, to put ourselves, into big “black and white” categories. People are good or bad. Good people are always good and always do good things, and bad people are always bad and always do bad things. We know, obviously, that this is not true. Our human experience is far more complicated than this. There aren’t just two categories of people. We don’t always act consistently.

You can be an incredible mother to your children, sacrificing your wants and needs for their sake… while at the same time being kind of lazy and inconsiderate to your coworkers.

You can be extremely charitable, giving to nonprofits and going on mission trips… while also being a bit racist.

You can be humble and loving in one moment only to be grouchy and unforgiving in the next.

It’s not that we all have schizophrenia or that we’re not suffering from split personality disorder—this is just the nature of being human. As beings that are both spirit and flesh, imperfect beings with free will, none of us goes through this world as wholly good or wholly bad. Each and every one of us, each and every one of our friends, each and every one of our enemies, has the possibility of goodness, the capacity to hear the word of God and produce abundant fruit. There are times when we are the good soil. In just the same way, we also have the possibility of doing evil, the capacity to ignore God’s word and do what we want, to grow very little. Sometimes, we are the path, the rocky soil, the thorns.

Even the saints weren’t perfect soil all of the time but struggled with sin even to their death. Remember what St. Paul says in the letter to the Romans: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” This is not Paul before his conversion, Paul before meeting Christ. This is Paul the Apostle, Paul the great saint called to build the Church. And yet, he still struggles with temptation, still struggles with sin. He does what he hates. He writes in his letter today that “all creation is groaning in labor pains.” This is what he means. There is a tension within us, that even the best among us can be rocky at times, can fail to produce good fruit. Yes, even the greatest of saints remain sinners.

Similarly, even the worst of sinners can, from time to time, be good soil and do heroic things. In the book of Joshua, it is Rahab, a prostitute, who saves the Israelites, who acts heroically for the mission of God. The reason that Moses fled Egypt in Exodus 2 was because he killed a guy. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, thought about what he was going to do in a premeditated fashion, and killed a guy. This was the man God used to free his people, the greatest of the prophets in the Old Testament. Was Rahab good soil or rocky soil? Was Moses good soil or rocky soil?

When I hear this parable from Jesus, I don’t think of these four categories as rigid, permanent states of life, that we all fit perfectly into one of these boxes and never stray from them. What I hear Jesus saying is that he is the word come down from heaven, he is the seed looking for a place to grow. Sometimes, we’re not open to him in our lives. In some situations, we’re a path, a rocky soil, thorns. But other times, in other situations, what we should strive for at all times, we can be good soil. What I hear him saying, what I have experienced myself, is that each moment is a new opportunity. No matter how good or bad you have acted before, every new situation gives us the option to choose: am I going to hear God’s word and nurture it, or am I going to throw it away?

It’s in looking at the parable in this way that I exhort you to one simple thing this week: stop labeling people. There is no such thing as someone who is pure goodness. There is no one who is pure evil. We, all of us, are complex mixes. Not a single one of us is a barren wasteland with no possibility of growth, and not a single one of us is perfect soil without any rocks or weeds. Each and every one of us is a wide open field with some good soil and some not so good soil.

To label someone bad and dismiss them because of something they’ve done—he’s a criminal, she’s an adulterer—is the epitome of judging people as Jesus forbids. It takes who a person was on their worst day and treats them as if that is the totality of their being. It’s just not true. It’s not fair. And it’s not loving. Rather than seeing someone as a label, as a broad category, we as Christians must see the person before us, the mix of good and bad. How many Rahabs have we missed in our lives? How many Moseses have we condemned? When we label people as bad, judge them and dismiss them, we fail to see what God sees in them—a beautiful creation with such great potential.

But it goes the other direction as well. To label someone as good and accept everything they do as good, fails to see how we all need to grow in holiness. My friend has heroic qualities. He is a loving father, a principled man, someone who looks to God in all that he does. And that’s great. But let’s not forget that he, too, has some things to work on. Even he, in all of his virtue, still has some vices to work out. All of us do. If we truly care about being holy, truly care about being disciples of Christ, fit for the kingdom, it is not enough to say that we’re “good people,” that we don’t have flaws or that they don’t matter. Even the best among us have rocky soil.

Where is that for you? What is the rocky soil of your life? When are you not at your best, not open to letting Christ live in you?

Be honest with yourself. You may have acres and acres of good soil, and that’s great, but the seed is dying wherever there are rocks. Find those areas where Christ cannot grow, where your heart is hardened, and till the ground. As long as we have one rock in our field, as long as there are still thorns growing, we’ve got some work to do.

Everyone knows that there are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church. Not everyone knows, or receives, the fullness of each sacrament.

Of particular importance today, I think, is an appropriate understanding of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As I discuss in this week’s Catholicism In Focus, it is not one that many people quite understand, and their misunderstanding is among my largest pet peeves in the Church.

In short, the sacrament is meant for the sick, not just the dying. Don’t wait until the last moment, when someone is already unconscious, to receive this wonderful gift from God.

Don’t Get Used to This!

The following is a homily for the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Year A. The readings can be found here.

Being able to stay connected with our worshiping community even in the midst of a pandemic is great. What a blessing!

And yet, it is not the same. It is not something to get used to. On this feast of Corpus Christi, we are reminded why we gather for Mass, and what the fullness of that celebration should be.

Overcoming Vices

Here in the United States, there seems to be a universal belief that we are free to do whatever we want. Not legally free, but simply capable. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything! It’s the sense that no matter what we’ve done up to a certain point, we are always able to act, unbiased, unconstrained, in any way we want.

This, obviously, is nonsense.

Besides any physical limitations we may have (you can’t fly no matter how hard you try) there will always be limitation on your will. Certain things are easier to do than others. Saying “no” to a decadent chocolate cake is not simply a matter of not eating it; if you are a sweet tooth or have no impulse control, saying “no” to this treat will be nearly impossible. We train our wills over time.

The habits that we form, good or bad, have an incredible grasp on what we do. They can influence to do what’s right, making it easier to do what we want to do, or they can condition us to resort to bad things when we’re having a tough day. The habits we create have a serious effect on our lives, physical and spiritual.

As Christians, it is imperative that we form good spiritual habits (virtues) and avoid bad ones (vices). In these two videos, I discuss the importance of forming habits and how to overcome bad ones.

Five years ago, Pope Francis promulgated Laudato Si, the first ever encyclical devoted to the environment. It is a fantastic work of theology, looking to the signs of the times and offering a comprehensive approach to the ills facing our world.

If you haven’t read it yet, I cannot encourage you enough. It is really good. And incredibly important. And about more than just the environment.

Beyond this week’s Catholicism in Focus, which offers and overview, here are some of my favorite passages:

The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”. (#6)

If we approach nature and the environment without…openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. (#11)

The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. (#23)

There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. (#25)

The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet… The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor. (#48)

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” (#120)

“There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development.” (#136)